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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cooking with Gilmar

I teach Gilmar English and apparently how to cook fried rice as well. Now let him show you how it's done.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nasi Lemak

Last Friday saw, once again, our attempt to recreate the taste of home while in a place that has neither the comfort of a hawker centre nor the convenience of a wet market. Culinary haven the Hendon Camp cookhouse may never be, but at least it served Nasi Lemak once every two weeks. [Sam, can consider leh].

Mr Pang and Mr A Lim kicked off the process by making batch after batch of Nasi Lemak -- rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves -- fragrant, rich, and extremely tasty.

Mr B Lim started the ball rolling by preparing our homemade Nasi Lemak sambal belachan. The translation "chilli sauce" just doesn't do this intriguing dish justice: a combination of shrimp paste, dried shrimp, chillies, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, shallots and some tinkering with lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar, this is the epitome of the Middletown fireman's conception of cat piss, and is sure to antagonise any angmoh living in the house.

The most technically-challenging dish done, Mr C Cheong and Mr B Lim then proceeded to prepare the following: fried luncheon meat, fried egg omelette, fried ikan bilis (anchovies) with roasted peanuts, while I sliced cucumber and pottered around looking busy. Meanwhile, Mr I Chow proved himself an asset in the kitchen by lending a helping hand whenever, well, help was sought.

The result -- an authentic Singapore dish we are proud of, but which was labelled (wrongly, of course) by someone as "disgusting". I leave you, dear reader, to make your own judgements.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the best meal yet

Today's lunch lasted for about three hours, by the end of the seemingly endless stream of food, we were all feeling a little light-headed, not from the wine but from all the glorious fat that went into the meal. The meal was meant to celebrate some birthdays in the house, but it was really an excuse to eat good food. Mr Pang, Lucky Lawn's MVP, was at the helm of this food adventure that led us to eat a whole zoo of different animals in one meal. So here goes....

Initial preparations. Notice the duck confit gleaming in their own fat and the bowl of duck fat that the duck legs were sitting in for at least a week - it doesn't get any more sinful than this. We also had beef marrow as a starter, spread on toast with a capers, lemon, and cilantro dressing.

Duck confit with lettuce and watercress.

Seared scallops with risotto. 16 scallops!

Pan-fried duck breast and lentils.

Lamb chops play along.

"Grass-fed beef is vegetarian" - Jeff

Roast chicken, quite possibly the best I've eaten. Marinated with thyme, salt, pepper. Pan-fried till brown before throwing into oven. The flavor was very clean and the meat was incredibly tender. The crisp of the skin was amazing. This is one where technique really makes all the difference, since we were using cheap stop-and-shop chicken.

Leftovers and dinner later in the day consisted of excess food from lunch with the addition of lobster with risotto (with more lobster than risotto), and the very incongruous but still very tasty phoenix claws and peanut soup.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

champion food

We participated in the iron chef competition today and came back with a whole bunch of beef, chicken, and spring onions, courtesy of the campus center. All that cooking and oranges got us pretty hungry so we decided to jump straight into dinner when we got home. Dinner turned out tasting a lot better than the stuff we cooked in the afternoon.

Our kitchen and honorary housemates.

Beef seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, pepper (this marinade was actually from the korean cookbook we won!). Wrap around base of spring onion, for that crunch, pan fry till it smells good. This dish was very tasty, Mr. Swee will attest to that with his look of ecstasy, with a great flavor and texture combination. It will definitely be even better if cooked over a charcoal grill.

Poached chicken seasoned with a hot sesame oil, spring onion, and ginger mixture poured over. Easy and tasty!

Dried anchovies (aka ikan billis) fried with chili prawn paste (aka sambal), edamame, and peanuts. Good to eat with anything or on its own for that matter.

Mr. Swee takes a swig while he stinks up the street frying dried ikan billis, which according to firemen, smell like cat piss.

Our efforts at horticulture.

champagne high tea

With the thesis in the bag and the fear of real life setting in, a little good food and champagne is a welcome distraction.

the menu

the table

the gravlax

the heart attack sauce and asparagus

the heart attack croque madame

the panna cotta with frozen fruit and missing apple cake

After this we all took a nap and woke up to have dinner....life is good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Brunch

This meal on the patio made passers-by grin with envy as the smell of charred meat, grilled seafood and fresh spring vegetables filled the street. It was an indication that spring was here. I cannot imagine a greater way of spending Easter Sunday amongst good friends, warm company and great food. In our accompaniment were pork, lamb, chicken, shrimp and sausage which were delicately marinated in a host of various seasoning - from a rack of ribs marinated in mustard, infused with tarragon sprigs to chicken skewers peppered with cumin, fish sauce and other good spices. For greens, we had a lettuce salad tossed in olive oil and a potato salad andrew made with kewpie mayo and some dashi pellets.

It was a thrill to watch as slab after slab of pork was thrown on the grill, fired to perfection and go down our tummies. The big juicy shrimps were scorched on each side as homemade lemon butter was brushed between the crevices of these glowing orange crustaceans. The highlight was probably the pork strips which had been marinating in mirin and soy sauce over the stove, which when slapped on the barbi, formed a crispy crust with a tender interior. Simply decadent. Samantha's prized lamb chops were quite a hit to and were served rare, medium and well-done. We washed everything down with an orange cooler with lemon slices. It was a splendid day as the sun shone down on us and as we watched Drama Queen suck bone after bone of the poor pig.

plates of pizza!

We made pizza some time back, pulling out whatever was in the fridge as usual to see what manner of permutations we could come with. The pizzas concoctions are as follow:

Strawberry jam and muenster cheese in a sweet and savory marriage.

Tomato pasta sauce with shrimp and Parmesan.

Tomato pasta sauce with chicken tikka masala sausage, cheese and olives.

Homemade pesto sauce and homemade mozzarella with olives, shrimp, and tomatoes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

sunday compost dinner

a quick look at the fridge, a quick email to the house

dinner at 6pm:
risotto with crispy mushrooms
creamed chard
prawns with garlic



lay out bacon on tray, sprinkle with sugar and paprika, bake at 450F.
cut 1.5inches off asparagus, rinse, dry then lay out on tray. splash some olive oil, sprinkle some salt, bake at 500F.
crumble bacon over nicely cooked asparagus (don't overcook them, cos they will feel like limp lobster legs in your mouth.) sprinkle lemon juice over.

swiss chard.
wilt swiss chard with white wine (pinot grigio).
meanwhile, make bastardised bechamel (BB) sauce (equal parts flour and butter, about 3-4 times more milk). cook it till it's tan in color to remove the taste of raw flour. keep whisking while adding milk bit by bit to avoid clumps. here's where i bastardised it - i added dried thyme and bits of parmaggiano. toss wilted chard with BB sauce.

slice mushrooms thinly (this chef i used to work for replied to my question about rinsing mushrooms by saying," mushrooms are fungi. so if there's other fungi on the mushroom, it's all the same.") deep fry in a pot with 1.5inch of oil at about 375F. quickly remove mushrooms when golden brown, spread them out in a single layer over paper towels and salt.
reconsitute leftover risotto, adjust with salt pepper and water.

heat pan with some oil and butter, let butter brown. add prawns, and slice garlic. once cooked, remove shrimp, deglaze with white wine and reduce. pour over plated prawns.

eat without linnea, then put a double portion on her plate and make all her yoga efforts go to waste. ah ah ah (sesame street's count's laughter)!

also, i made some mozzerella today, so it will be eaten tomorrow with some tomatoes, if they arrive in weshop.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Scissors Cut Rice

Yesterday for dinner, Bertram and I ambitiously tried to recreate the Hainanese-style Scissors Cut Rice, but to very limited success.

Dish 1: Pork Rib Curry
Having learnt my lesson from last time, I allowed my pork curry to simmer for a longer while, resulting in softer and juicier pork ribs. First I fried blended garlic and shallots until the nice fragrance came out, then I threw in blended ginger and onions, and fried till they became "dry and toasty", in Mr Pang's words. I next threw in the Curry Powder Cake (a la Rendang Powder Cake from the previous time), fried the mixture for a bit, before throwing the pork ribs (available, amazingly, at Weshop!) and cubed potatoes in. After stirring for a bit, I added 3 cups of hot water, and allowed the mixture to stew for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, I added one can of coconut milk, and allowed the mixture to simmer very gently for 20 more minutes. At this point I shrieked, because I'd forgotten to add lemongrass in the earlier stage of frying the spices, and I was pretty upset because we've actually got lemongrass this time.

Stewed a little bit more, added some salt to taste, copped out with a dash of fish sauce because it was somehow pretty bland, and served.

Dish 2: Soggy(?) Cabbage Stir Fry

Garlic slices, fry. Cabbage, fry. Add ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock, allow to simmer. Add a dash of sesame oil for fragrance, some white pepper powder, throw on some scallion, and serve.

Dish 3: Special Mapo Tofu

Pseudo claypot tofu made on a pan with an assortment of leeks,red onions, celery, white mushrooms

Dish 4: Crispy Fried Eggs (special guest chef, Mr Andrew Lim)

This is essentially frying the eggs in a good unhealthy portion of hot oil such that the eggs start to bubble upon hitting the oil. After the sides start to brown, flip it over and wait a few seconds before removing from heat. Ideally the yolk should still be runny and the outsides crispy and oily. 

Conclusion: Far from any self-respecting Scissors Cut Rice -- we had no time to prepare the starchy black gravy for the eggs and veggies, nor was the curry smooth yet tasty enough. And of course, nothing was really Scissors Cut. But as my Boss likes to say, "in this world, who don't make mistake?"

Friday, March 26, 2010

orzo oh my

I had a craving for orzo today. Luke made some during Spring Break and it was lovely. For this one I included a lot of random things I found in the shop. Roasted peppers, tomatoes, basil, olives, mozzarella, asparagus, garlic, lemon juice and rind, and onions. It had a very nice light flavor to it, but as you can see the proportions were a bit off and there was more ingredients than orzo. The sausage was a surprisingly tasty thai-curry flavored variety which I have definitely become a fan of. The onions continue to rumble in my stomach as I write, it was too raw for the lack of better articulation, maybe I should just use less in the future. Because of bad approximation of portion, I was left feeling quite hungry after my bowl was empty so I cooked an omelet inspired by watching Julia Child do it on youtube. It involved a lot of butter and shaking of the pan.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

finally! some decent meat we can use our points on

They were selling pork ribs at wesshop today and vickie decided to do some heart attack inducing cooking. The marinade for this is soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, chives, and sugar. Let sit for two hours before deep frying  in a lot of oil. the recipe advices to remove and fry again. Apparently the double frying is to ensure the insides get cook and the outside stay crisp without getting burned. Taste wise, it was pretty damn good and almost tasted like charsiew, a little too salty, but nothing nice a bowl of white rice couldn't handle. The recipe in chinese can be found here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

clearing out the fridge

luke calls this compost pasta containing brussels sprouts, shrimp, carrots, bacon bits, pine nuts, and....hmmm

asparagus with almonds, potato, sweet potatoes baked with salt

avocado smoothie made with avocado, condensed milk, sugar, and milk.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"this is how my house smells like everyday at 7pm" Sam

Dinner was simple today with a few friends. It was nice. We made dumplings with turkey meat, which don't really do dumplings any justice but unfortunately they really like their turkey here. We also had fried rice with salted fish (that made the street smell like a wet dog when fried), chicken, and fresh eggs mixed with the crumbled yolk of a salted egg. Props to Charmaine for her direction with the fried rice, according to her, it should ideally have included dried and fresh shrimp and pork instead of chicken.

chinese food - too many good things part II

Outdoor cooking to avoid oily splashes and to share the smell of fried salted fish with the street. Mr Swee stated with a twinkle in his eyes, "wah if got real fire hor, than is really like zhi cha, wah I want to be like a zhi cha cook."

Mr Swee's curly haired vege (insert lewd joke) garnished with carrots as an afterthought.

Mr Pang's impromptu chicken made with funky smelling stop-and-shop chicken with dried chili, star anise, and what I think is chinese cooking wine and soy sauce.

This fed 12 people and was over in a blink . On the left is roasted pork belly. On the extreme left is Mr Swee's roasted pork belly fried further with soy sauce, sugar, and garlic - quite simply candied pork. A savory, sugary, fatty delight that has surely shortened my life by a couple of minutes. As Mr Swee, repeatedly asserted, "That's why my mother hor, only cook this once a year during Chinese New Year."